Monday, September 23, 2013

Is it "After the Chagim" Yet?

So....the holidays.

In the mind of my non-Jewish and/or non-religious friends, this conjures up images of sugar cookies, decorations, gifts, and driving to Grandma's.

For us (well, me anyway) it conjures up images of meal after meal after menu plan after food shopping after long davening .....sprinkled with moments of happy family togetherness.

Living in the US, I was always amused when, returning to work after Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur, my colleagues asked me "So, how was your holiday?!"  with an expectant look of glee and joy in their eyes, thinking of their own happy holidays.

So the image bubble over their head looked something like this:

While the one in my head looked something like this:

So I'd always answer, "Great!" and think that it was sweet of them to ask, but they had no idea at all what it was like for us. 

In general, the Rosh Hashana - Sukkot holiday season is tough for everyone. I mean let's get real:

  • Kids just started school and are now on a more than two week vacation
  • Parents have to shop, cook, serve, and clean up from way too many meals
  • It's become a competition, it seems, to have tons of guests over - it's the Rosh Hashana equivalent of "How late did your seder go?" to hear the question "How many guests did you have yesterday?"
  • There is too much eating and sleeping and sitting 
  • The money!  Aside from the food, how about the lulav and etrog, the sukkah decorations, the clothes, the shul seats, and chol hamoed trips
  • Stress levels are at an all time high, making it not so much a fun meaningful holiday for anyone

It's just not natural, I tell you.  We need to rethink this thing.  Here are my suggestions:
  1. A ban on guests on Rosh Hashana - first of all shul is so long that you don't get to eat until like 3:00.  Then you just end up in a loshon hora fest anyway (and yes, the comment, "Wow, why did he have to drey out that "v'chol maaminim"? is considered lashon hora). On top of that, if you have guests, your meal (probably meat) takes a longer time, and then you can't have dairy until like 10:00 or 11:00 pm, which wrecks your menu ideas for dinner.
  2. School on chol hamoed - seriously the kids actually want to be in school, let them go and have chol hamoed fun there.
  3. School on the chag!  OK, that is going a little too far.
  4. Esrog/Lulav delivery service - OK, the 3 trips to the lulav guy is a little ridiculous, I mean we do have other things to do.  So why hasn't anyone thought of delivery?  The guy comes to your house, and in his car are all of his choices.  Then he comes back erev chag to deliver the hadasim and aravot.  Smart, right?  
  5. Fun in shul - really, shul can get to you, am I right?  I  mean after 2 hours it's time for some fun - so how about games instead of a drasha?  Like "guess the ushpizin" or "capture the lulav."
  6. More fun in shul - how about a little yoga session to stretch those muscles after the long shemoneh esreh on Rosh Hashana?  Is that sacreligious?  We can call it something else.
  7. Services that take your kids on chol hamoed trips - someone could really rake it in here.   Pay someone else to take your kids on a trip. 
  8. Cereal meals.  Cereal is possibly man's greatest invention.  Have at least 2 meals on the chag where it is the main/only offering.  Your kids will love you for it. Include Fruity Pebbles.
  9.  Ice cream meals - even better than #6.
  10. Nap helpers - what about chag / shabbat afternoon babysitters?  Why has no one thought of this yet?  Imagine the happiness of parents if they can snooze in the afternoon while their kids are entertained!!
 I got a million ideas, these are just a few.  I gotta go stock up on cereal now, it's almost Shemini Atzeret.

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